Western Arms Manufacturers Hiring Rapidly Amid Increased Military Spending

The chief of NATO recently said bloc members have taken “longer than they should” to ramp up military output

Western defense companies are hiring workers at the fastest pace since the end of the Cold War, according to the Financial Times. This hiring surge is happening as governments increase military spending since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

Twenty large and medium-sized US and European defense and aerospace companies are planning to hire tens of thousands of people this year, the FT reported, based on its own survey.

The largest US contractors – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics – have nearly 6,000 open positions, while ten surveyed companies are aiming to increase their staff numbers by almost 37,000 in total, which is nearly 10% of their combined workforce, the newspaper reported.

Firms are looking to fill a variety of roles, from welders and mechanics to engineers, software developers, and cybersecurity analysts, across all experience levels, from apprentices to senior executives, the FT added.

Italian defense contractor Leonardo is conducting “an intense search for new hires, even more intense than during previous conflicts such as Iraq or Afghanistan,” according to the firm’s chief personnel officer, Antonio Liotti.

Ammunition producers, particularly Germany’s Rheinmetall and Norwegian-Finnish Nammo, are among those with the most aggressive hiring plans, the FT reported. Missile manufacturers such as Thales and MBDA, whose weapons have been used by Ukraine, plan to increase their workforces by up to 17%.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military spending jumped 6.8% in 2023, the largest year-on-year increase since 2009, reaching a record $2.443 trillion, or 2.3% of global GDP.

The US saw the sharpest increase in military spending, followed by China and Russia, according to SIPRI data.

In 2023, the 31 NATO members accounted for 55% of the world’s military expenditure, the institute said in a report in April. Russia’s military spending increased by 24% in 2023, it added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in May that since the start of the Ukraine conflict in 2022, ammunition production in Russia has increased 14-fold, while the production of missiles and artillery shells has increased 22-fold.

Russia has been able to bolster its defense industry faster than NATO anticipated, the military bloc’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said earlier this month. In an interview with Sky News, the NATO chief claimed that bloc members “spent more time than they should [have]” in boosting their production.